This exam uses low-dose x-rays to make a picture of breast tissue. The picture is called a mammogram.

Possible Complications

X-rays do not cause short-term health complications. But radiation doses may build up in the body over time. The more x-rays you have the more radiation there will be. This can raise the risk of some cancers or thyroid problems. The risk is higher in children and women who could get or are pregnant. Lead safety shields are used during x-rays. They help lower the amount of radiation to the body.

Pregnant women should talk to their doctors about the risks of having a mammogram.



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Breast X-ray; Mammogram; X-ray of Breast Tissue)


American Cancer Society 

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 


Breast Cancer Society of Canada 

Radiology for Patients 


Mammograms. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed October 16, 2020.

Mammography (breast imaging). Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: Accessed October 16, 2020.

Mammography for breast cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed October 16, 2020.